Resurfaced image of nude photographer holding baby draws backlash

New Yorker magazine is slammed online after picture of nude photographer holding naked baby in his lap shared by the iconic magazine in 2019 resurfaces

  • People on Twitter are attacking the New Yorker over an image the magazine shared on Instagram in 2019
  • The image shows nude photographer Michael Bailey-Gates holding a naked baby
  • It follows controversy over Balenciaga ad campaign featuring children holding teddy bears adorned in BDSM gear

A resurfaced image of a nude photographer holding a naked baby is drawing backlash online following a controversy over dubious child imagery in an Balenciaga ad campaign.

The image was shared on the New Yorker’s Instagram page in 2019, when it was also featured on the cover of now-defunct Matte Magazine.

In recent days, the image has circulated online and drawn strong backlash from critics who call it ‘disturbing’ and ‘wrong’.

The image is a 2018 self-portrait titled ‘Self-Portrait on My Birthday’ by photographer Michael Bailey-Gates, who uses the pronouns they and them.

It shows Bailey-Gates looking pensive and holding the young baby. The photographer grips a corded electronic device, which appears to be a wired shutter switch to operate the camera.

The image was shared on the New Yorker’s Instagram page in 2019, when it was also featured on the cover of now-defunct Matte Magazine

‘This is considered ‘artistic’ in the realm of new-coming fashion editorials,’ said one Twitter user, who added that the baby in the photo looked ‘terrified’.

‘It’s all creepy and filthy. New Yorker, happy to endorse child abuse,’ another tweeted.

‘This isn’t pedophilic but it IS still disturbing. The expression on the child was meant to be caught that way,’ another commented. 

‘Obviously provocative,’ wrote another. ‘I think that the naked man is Michael Bailey Gates, the photographer, supposedly taking a self portrait. So, the wire is attached to a camera.’

‘The one picture alone is child abuse. Twitter needs to do better. I’ve reported his account and hopefully many others have also. The sick part is the number of followers he has. Evil,’ another wrote.

‘This is wrong and matte magazine needs to be cancelled,’ wrote another. Matte Magazine does not appear to have published a new issue since 2019. 

It follows a firestorm that led Balenciaga to apologize for an advertising campaign that sparked criticism on social media over accusations that it featured inappropriate imagery involving children.

The storm over the campaign led reality television star Kim Kardashian to review her ties with the label.

The label drew fire in recent weeks over two separate campaigns that were posted online. One last month, advertising a gift collection, featured a handbag in the form of a stuffed teddy bear in bondage-style straps, held by children.

A second, separate campaign for the label’s spring 2023 collection, set in an office, included papers featuring text from a 2008 Supreme Court ruling relating to child pornography.

In a statement earlier this month, Balenciaga apologized and said that investigations into the ad campaigns were ongoing. 

It said the papers featuring the legal text on child pornography were props from a third party and that it had filed a complaint against the inclusion of the ‘unapproved documents.’


The Bondage Bears Christmas campaign 

The scandal erupted when Balenciaga released its 2022 Holiday ad campaign that featured children posing with its Plush Toy Bag. The bags look like teddy bears and are dressed in BDSM gear. 

In the photo shoot, the kids also appeared surrounded by empty wine and champagne glasses. 

The distinctly adult themes immediately troubled many who asked why children had ever been used. 

Balenciaga ignored the scandal at first and seemingly allowed the photographer who was involved, Gabriele Galimberti, to take the heat. 

He released a statement saying he had no control over the content of the shoot and eventually, Balenciaga released its own statement agreeing with him and taking responsibility for the campaign. 

It has now been pulled from the internet. 

The hidden child porn documents 

After the BDSM bears fiasco, eagle-eyed critics started examining the rest of Balenciaga’s campaigns closely. 

They soon discovered that in the background of an image from the Spring ’23 campaign was a printout of a Supreme Court ruling on whether or not internet child porn can be legally considered free speech. 


On the back of the bears scandal, many critics said it pointed to a troubling pattern within Balenciaga. 

Balenciaga was quick to blame North Six, a production company that helped arrange the shoot, for the inclusion of those documents. 

They claimed that they entrusted all of the props from the photoshoot to North Six, and that their team was assured everything that was included was fake. 

The troubling book of artist whose work depicts naked, castrated toddlers 

Balenciaga is yet to answer for the inclusion of a book by Michael Borremans in the background of two of the images from the Spring ’23 campaign. 

Borremans is a Belgian painter whose work includes a troubling 2017 series called Fire From The Sun. 

It depicts naked toddlers – some of them castrated – playing in a group and at times alone. 

Lawyers for the brand are yet to address’s questions about how the book ended up on the photoshoot.  

In this image from Balenciaga’s scrapped Spring ’23 campaign, Isabelle Huppert sits in front of a stack of books including one that celebrates Michael Borremans, a Belgian painter whose work is known to include depictions of castrated toddlers

Borremans’ other work includes his 2017 series Fire From The Sun, which features castrated toddlers and babies holding what look like severed limbs, while playing together nude in a large group

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